Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Truly free"

City life has come to my little town of Newville.
Well, almost.  If you consider a Sheetz store the city. It's close enough for this small-town girl.
The moment I knew Sheetz was really coming to town (not Santa Claus) I began pondering the reasons I'd be thankful.  But one word sums it up: CONVENIENCE. 

You just have to know Newville, that's all I'll say.  
Coffee to go, gas pumps that are easily accessible and a new place to meet more people.  
I was like a kid just thinking about it.  
But the best part was a surprise to me.  I didn't know that I'd receive a "FREE" card in the mail.  These days, it seems like there's usually a catch to anything free.  
But sure enough, I was able to have free coffee for 30 days if I just showed my little card.  My husband said they were deceiving me, but I wasn't deceived!

I knew that I was getting a free coffee for 30 days and I knew that when I was done with 30 days, I'd wish for more, but be disciplined enough to say no.
I've had such a great time with this.  I rarely afford myself little luxuries like that, but I decided to step up to the counter and live differently for a month and I loved every free cup I got.  
Lots of chocolate creamers, sugar and white milk, some hot water and oh yeah, a little bit of coffee.  I even started doing the extra large.
You see, it's a visual of what's been happening on the inside of me these days.  I'm finding out how free God's love really is and I've been stepping up to the counter and asking for more.
Somehow I've easily given in to thinking that I must be perfect, be holy, be everything good I can be for God to love me.  As I've encountered the inability to live perfectly later in life, I've had to dig deep.  My well offers very little!
I used the free coffees as a way to practice receiving something for free. Truly free.  That's the idea of Christmas gifts isn't it?  No strings attached.  A gift, given in love, to be received that way.
Yes Sheetz - as your big trucks display "Feel the love" - I felt your love for 30 days.   
I'm learning to feel the love God has for me too.  I pray the same for you.   It's offered freely and deeply.  You just need to step up to the counter and receive it. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Solo Piano CD is released: "Windy Hill Road"

Windy Hill Road CD is finally here!

Many times I have walked a road called "Windy Hill Road" as part of my exercise routine.  Though it is a winding road with a steep hill, the view at the top is worth the climb.  I can see the PA mountains when I get to the top.

I am often inspired by nature and find refreshment in being a part of it as much as possible.  

This solo piano project is a compilation of songs that I have created over the years, most of them in 2010.  

I was challenged by a book I read to try and write what I see and hear. 

One morning, I came back from my walk especially inspired by the birds singing.  I sat down at the piano and began to try to play my reaction to the beautiful sound of their songs.  Out of that came one of my favorites on this project:  "Bird Song".

Another morning, in the dreariness of winter, on Windy Hill Road, I began to compose the song "Snow" as an expression of my longing for a blanket of comforting white to cover the gray tones of winter.

A couple of the tunes such as "Tumbleweed" were composed as I viewed aerial images of the southwest captured by my brave brother who flies a small aircraft and takes photos at the same time.

"Simplicity" came about while studying the life of King David.  I had been asking the Lord for keys to the success David had when it came to his faith as a shepherd boy and I kept sensing the word simplicity.   I'm still not sure what all that means, but I enjoyed creating a tune that expresses that characteristic.

"The Pruning" comes from pruning my lilac bush in our backyard.  It must be painful to be pruned, but the end results are worth it.  So it is in my own life.  I don't like pruning, but I do want the results of it.

And so you have highlights from the story of this CD project.  Once again, thanks for supporting my music!   May it bring you peace on your road through life.

To purchase the new CD, click on the link below.  To purchase it at a cheaper price, go to my website and sign up for my e-mails and get it for less. (Discount offer good only through November 30, 2011).

Buy "Windy Hill Road" on-line.

View the trailer here:

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Musician's Mother

My mother unexpectedly found herself pregnant with me when she was 42 and delivered me at the age of 43.  She is now 88 and I'm 45.  I'm sometimes asked if I am her grand-daughter.  (I wonder how long I'll look young enough to get by with that!)

This past June, she fell in the middle of the night and suffered an injury to her spine.   In the midst of this physical setback, we just finished moving her to a small apartment.

I have been spending so much time at the retirement home where she lives, that someone asked me if I live there.  Another person asked me if I was an employee.   Though I certainly have been working there, the benefit package is a bit unusual.

On her first day in her new apartment I decided to stay and have lunch with her in the dining room.  I wanted to meet her table mates.  What an experience!

I knew it was going to be fun when a woman sat down and said something like, "It's hard to find your glasses when you can't see without them".

I met some wonderful ladies who could have filled my afternoon with stories.  
  • a former probation officer of 20 + years (now 97 years old)
  • a former missionary to Africa who had a terrible accident and had to re-learn how to do many things.  She now lives in the retirement home, thankful to be walking again
  • another woman used to ride motorcycles (we started talking bike-talk right away)
So picture us sitting around the table, some hard of hearing, some hard of remembering, but all finding themselves in the stark reality of aging.  It was a bit hard to make conversation, but we managed our way through it.

Then there's the whole system they have in place for not wasting the food they can't eat.  As I was laughing at the colorful bags they bring with them to lunch so they can store the leftovers for later, I realized that I was pouring sugar on my dessert instead of into my iced tea.

Perhaps I should look into getting a room there.  I feel like I'd fit right in.

I'm not finding much time for anything else these days except spending time with my mother.  The song writing will have to wait, but in the meantime, I'm learning to look at life through the eyes of those who have lived their song and could use someone to listen to their melody, even if they only remember parts of it.

I know one thing, I must treasure the time I have now to enjoy life at my age.  AND I want to find ways to nurture the elderly I come in contact with to help them remember the rich times of their lives.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rainy Days

I think I'll go into weather forecasting.  I could have predicted rain for just about every day in April here in PA and been 'partly to mostly' accurate. 
Too many dreary days in a row can really affect my mood if I'm not careful.   

Now that I'm aware of this tendency, I'm finding ways to change my attitude since I can't change the weather. 

I was challenged by the following passage at church one night and have been mulling it over and over - especially when it rains.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."  Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV
Spring is the perfect time to be reminded that even though things look lifeless, overnight things will change.  Well, not quite overnight, but sometimes it can seem that way. 

The truth is, it takes time for the process of new life.  Though it's never real clear as to when the change happens, sure enough, at some point you will begin to see new life on the trees and everywhere else in nature.

I spend time praying, meditating on the scripture and listening to uplifting music.  Many times I don't feel like I see much change in my life as an immediate result.  

But now when it rains, I remind myself that just as it is raining and I can't see much change in the earth, the truth is, things ARE happening and the earth IS changing. 

Finally, there are leaves on the trees and the grass is growing. 

The Father compares His Word to the cycles of rain and snow.  He promises that just as the rain waters the earth and brings forth buds and food, His word will do what He sent it to do in me.  I cling to that promise and I use rainy days to help remind me of that promise.

Another promise I cling to is found in Romans 12:2a "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind".  ESV

As I renew my mind with truth and God's promises, somehow I am transformed, changed like the caterpillar into the butterfly.  I don't know how it happens, but there's power in setting our minds on things above - like God's love and forgiveness.  I might not see change overnight, but He sent His word and I'm expecting it to accomplish what He promised.

We expect that eventually Spring will come and everyone will see the effects of that dreary rainy season and we will be so glad. 


My dear Father, help me to remember that even on the rainy days as the earth is being transformed without me seeing it, so is Your word at work in my life, changing me and making me a new person in heart and mind. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Not-so-fine china

My husband mentioned recently that we've had more people over for a meal in the past month than any time he can remember.

I discovered that having something positive to focus on (like having a meal to get ready for friends) was a good dose of medicine for a bad case of the winter blues.  So I increased the dosage!

There are so many excuses I've had in the past for not inviting people over:  

  • house is old and needs work, wait until it's perfect 
  • kitchen is small and needs work, wait until it's re-painted and en-larged 
  • landscaping is not as I'd like, wait until it's perfect
  • don't have enough serving dishes that match, wait until I get more
  • I tend to have bad accidents in the kitchen, wait until I'm perfect
  • my grandmother's china is nice, but it's cracked and stained, too embarrassing to use???
I think you get the idea.

When my need for having people around outgrew my need to be perfect and impressive, I discovered that it is much more enjoyable to put aside all my flaws, get out my flawed china and start sharing my heart and home with others.

My kitchen is still small, my home still needs
Gravy some work (we weren't going to live here this long and here we are 21 years later) and my precious grandmother's china is far from perfect, but we've been having a great time getting to know others better in spite of it all.

My not-so-fine china is actually a beautiful picture of life.  Why wait until it's perfect to share it.  Maybe others will feel a bit more free to share their heart too when I realize ALL of us are a bit cracked and stained.

After all, my imperfections are easily shared in my songs, why not my home?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I've been enjoying using my new GPS, most of the time.  I've encountered a few challenges with it, however.

My short term memory creates a problem when the unemotional voice prompts me to take a turn and within a few short seconds I can't remember what she just said. It works much better for me now that I've figured out how to make her repeat the directions.

Then there's the challenge of exactly how far 200 feet really is.  I've never been good at judging distances. It'd be better if she would tell me to turn at the blue house with red shudders or look for the pizza shop on the left.  I just have no idea how far .4 miles is.  (Anyone want to travel with me?)

My first experience with a GPS was in Germany and it was not a good one.  (imagine 4 hours of traveling in a foreign country after an all-night flight and listening to 'recalculating' over and over).  I decided then that I would never get 'one of those'. 

My husband decided otherwise, and I'm glad he did.  I'm also thankful for the 'recalculating' because I know that eventually I'll end up at my destination, even if I take a wrong turn.

It reminds me of God's grace somehow.  Sometimes I take a wrong turn and wonder how on earth I'll get back on track.  But I know that He is always watching over me and He is a Father who finishes the good work He begins in us, even when we get off the main path. 

Whether we weren't paying attention to His leading because we were distracted or just plain chose to take a rabbit trail, He is recalculating and working all things out for our good.

Proverbs 16:9 says "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  NIV

Now that's a GPS I can count on!